The thing people miss here is I was born & baptized into the EO church. I was given icons since a tiny child and told to venerate them. I just did it because people told me to. I had a VERY saturated Orthodox childhood. Sure time and time these things were explained, but a child is not very capable of abstract thinking.
SO despite any arguments I have against iconography, I can attest that a 5 year old child doesn't grasp the true veneration of a saint, the theotokos, or Christ.
No. You can attest that a 5 year old you didn't grasp the Orthodox theology of icons and icon veneration. You might even argue that a 5 year old anyone wouldn't be able to grasp the Orthodox theology of icons and their veneration as taught by Nicaea II and ecclesiastical writers such as John Damascene and Theodore the Studite. You can't attest more than that.
But every 5 year old I've ever known grasps love. And that's all it is, despite what you want to make it out to be.
They barely understand what they did and why nor how their sacrifice was so important.
I barely understand it after a graduate theological degree. Do you understand it? Maybe you can if you eviscerate it beyond recognition, but if you're talking about the same Christ I'm talking about, no one can fully grasp him, his Father, or his work, even in old age. So why pick on kids for being kids? Jesus didn't do that.
The key word in the subject is "TEACH". Kissing something (or in the case of EO - someone's who has been painted that really kisses them) isn't teaching them anything.
I remember to be told to venerate certain icons when I was 5 years old. I had no idea what I was venerating.
Look, you don't teach kids why they need to brush their teeth by explaining bacteria, germs, tooth decay, plaque, floss, etc. You give them a brush, put some paste on it, and tell them to do it, showing them how to whatever extent and for however long it's necessary. If they never get a DDS degree, they'll still know everything they need to know about dental care just from developing the habit of regular brushing and flossing from their training in the home. If you made an understanding of dentistry a prerequisite for allowing children to brush, everyone's teeth would've rotted out of their mouths a long time ago.
"Christ has risen" sung out loud.... "Conquering death by death"..... A child doesn't understand those concepts at all.
"Jesus was born of a virgin"..... "Kiss the ever virgin Mary".... Okay, so that teaches a child what? They don't even know what virginity is.
You're applying adult standards of education onto children, but that's not how you do it. When you're an infant, Mom doesn't say "Hello my son, I'm your mother, and this is your father. He became your father when he had sexual intercourse with me, and I became your mother when one of his sperm cells fertilised my ovum. Oh, honey, you don't know what those things are? Of course you don't, how silly of me! Well, sexual intercourse is when your Daddy inserted his..." No. Mom looks at the baby and says "Mama" until the kid repeats the word and identifies it with her. Same with Dad. As God gives the family days and years of health and growth, you can explain little by little what those things mean as they are able to understand. They may not really "get it" until they become parents themselves, but it's a start.
You insist on making things more difficult than they are because you don't get it. That's your problem. Let the little children love God.
I think it would be much better to teach a small child what the scriptures say, so that they understand what they are doing, before people have them do it.
Because they're going to understand the Bible if they don't understand kissing people you love? LOL.
If they venerate without understanding, they merely are doing so blind.
Yes a small child understands what love is, but every small child will shy away from strangers and cling to their parents. Until they can grasp "who St. Basil is", it may be a good idea to explain that before asking them to kiss the icon of him.
And why do you assume that other children's parents don't do that?